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Nefesh B'Nefesh Throws Virtual Mega Event as Immigrants Tackle the Coronavirus

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Attorney Jane Olman during her online presentation to participants in Nefesh B'Nefesh's virtual Aliyah Fair, March 15, 2020.
Attorney Jane Olman during her online presentation to participants in Nefesh B'Nefesh's virtual Aliyah Fair, March 15, 2020.Credit: Sarah Kantor

VIRTUAL PREP: After the coronavirus epidemic forced Nefesh B’Nefesh to cancel its annual Aliyah Mega Event in New Jersey for potential immigrants to Israel, the organization regrouped and assembled a virtual event that drew 2,500 participants on Sunday.

The change in venue enabled veteran immigrants like attorney Jane Olman to provide their expertise from Israel. “My session was on renting property in Israel and covered the process and what to expect from rental contract and how to protect yourself as a tenant,” Olman, who is originally from California, told Haaretz. “Over 200 people participated from what I understand.”

She said that while she has lectured for NBN for many years, “this was a totally different experience” since she had to talk “to the camera as opposed to actual people.” Yet, she noted, “the chat aspect of the setup was helpful since participants were able to write in their questions during the lecture and that allowed for some of the give and take and audience participation.”

A PHONE CALL AWAY: As the coronavirus epidemic threatens to shut down Israel, immigrant assistance organizations are stepping in to support community members.

ESRA, the English Speaking Residents Association, has made staff working from home available by phone and email to its members, executive board member Baruch Tanabaum told Haaretz. “There was a special operation Tuesday to telephone members over 80 because they’re the most vulnerable group,” he added. For general emotional support, call Susan at (052) 698-9088 or Cecily at (050) 373-1302. 

The AACI, the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, is sending members daily email updates with useful links. Non-members are welcome to obtain valuable and regularly updated information on the crisis by emailing info@aaci.org.il.

As for Telfed, Dorron Kline told Haaretz: “We are phoning all the new olim, some in quarantine, to ensure that they are okay and understand what needs to be done. We have new olim in quarantine.” He added its website, telfed.org.il, has a special page to connect South African and Australian immigrants who need help with those ready to volunteer.

Additionally, the Aboulafia Institute, a psychotherapy center, announced that immigrant families can call Gilad Vengrover at (052) 662-2848 for emotional support or advice during the crisis, Mondays through Thursdays 4 P.M. to 6 P.M. and Fridays 10 A.M. to noon.

DE-STRESS YOURSELF: For years, Modi’in resident Sandra Yosef-Hassidim has served on a helpline that employs “The Work of Byron Katie,” which is “a system of questioning your stressful thinking about a particular situation and checking different perspectives on it,” the Dutch native told Haaretz.

In wake of the coronavirus epidemic, Yosef-Hassidim launched a free daily Zoom meeting this week to help people work through their stressful thoughts about our new reality. “It’s the craziest situation ever that we never dreamt of, the whole world upside down,” she told Haaretz.

She recommends people who want to join the sessions, which start at 5 P.M. and are open for an hour, to be familiar with the method or to read about it at thework.com. “An added bonus point to doing the work from all over the world is feeling we’re in the same boat and we’re doing something about our thinking about it,” she noted. For more info, contact Sandra on her Facebook page, The Work with Sandra Yosefhassidim.

Rank and File was compiled by Steven Klein.

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